By Katie Scutt and Ingo Ernst, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on behalf of the Aquatic Deed project team (January 2018)
The Aquatic Deed is an agreement that establishes how decisions will be made and costs shared for responses to aquatic animal disease outbreaks. Fisheries and aquaculture sectors and governments have been working together to develop a draft agreement which will be used for further consultation in the first half of 2018. Similar agreements are in place for plant and livestock industries, but there is currently no agreement for fisheries and aquaculture industries.
Why we need an Aquatic Deed?
Disease outbreaks occur regularly and can cause major impacts on aquaculture production around the world. For fisheries, some disease outbreaks go unseen but others have significant impacts or can result in other consequences such as trade restrictions. The Aquatic Deed would provide a way for industry and governments to work together to reduce the impacts of disease by responding to outbreaks early and effectively.
Industry sectors, represented by their national peak bodies, would sign onto the deed. Individual businesses do not need to sign up. It is the national peak body that will represent the interests of their members during a response.
Industry sectors that sign up would have a formal role in decision making during a response; such as agreeing to response actions and costs. Costs will be shared between industry and governments based on the amount of benefit that each deed signatory receives from that response. If an industry sector doesn’t benefit—meaning its species are not affected by the disease—it wouldn’t pay.
The Aquatic Deed is an agreement that covers how responses to disease outbreaks will be managed
All parties to the aquatic deed (including industry parties) have roles in decision making and funding responses
Costs for a response are shared among those parties who would benefit – if you don’t benefit you don’t contribute
The Aquatic Deed includes obligations for parties to mitigate disease risk to lessen the likelihood of an outbreak occurring in the first place
The Aquatic Deed provides a way of responding to disease outbreaks in a way that is in the common interest of all parties that might be affected.
Your industry would benefit from being a party to the Aquatic Deed by being able to influence how a disease response is implemented. If your industry were potentially affected by an outbreak, your peak body would represent you in decision making together with other affected parties (governments and industries). The Aquatic Deed provides a level of certainty on how a response will be managed and ensures that affected industries (if they are a party) will be a part of the decisions on how to respond.
Another benefit is at the business level. For businesses that are directly affected by an outbreak there are provisions for parties to share some specific costs to reimburse those businesses for their losses. Not all impacts would be reimbursed, generally just those that occur as a result of achieving the disease response objective e.g. eradication of the disease.
If there were agreement to use the Aquatic Deed in a response, the affected industry (or industries) would need to contribute to the response costs. In the plant and livestock agreements, the Commonwealth Government has agreed to underwrite industry costs — these must be repaid over a period of up to 10 years and there must be a repayment mechanism in place. This is usually an industry levy that can be set at zero and only activated if required.
Although a draft Aquatic Deed has now been prepared, it will be the subject of further consideration by governments and industries during 2018. Industry peak bodies will be involved in this consultation.
If you would further information please visit the AHA website.